A futuristic shelter for besieged Londoners inspired by the July 7 bombings and the Blitz was unveiled yesterday as the latest installation to fill Tate Modern's vast Turbine Hall.
TH.2058, by the French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, includes bunk beds, replica artworks, dripping rain and a film of dystopian worlds.
The work is set 50 years in the future and is inspired by the idea of London under attack "whether by flooding, bombing or invasion". Gonzalez-Foerster, 43, has imagined the city as a place of disaster and its population taking shelter from never-ending rain.
Piercing lights refer to our surveillance culture and the installation incorporates gargantuan animal sculptures including a 65ft flamingo – a copy of a work by Alexander Calder – and a replica of a spider by Louise Bourgeois that stood outside the gallery last year.
The main part of the installation consists of bunk bed frames with books such as JG Ballard's The Drowned World and Mike Davis' Dead Cities placed on them, and a large screen at one end showing excerpts from science fiction films.
A museum guard at the age of 18, Gonzalez-Foerster said she was "so shocked to see how little time people spent in front of a work", that she had dedicated her 20-year career to creating art that stops visitors in their tracks. She added that she had placed replica artworks alongside the bunk beds as a nod to art history.
"it is a work which is intense and turbulent, saying: 'Fasten your seatbelts,' but it is not a pessimistic work. it has a dark side but if you spend more time in it, it's not only dark," she said.
"I think it's up to the audience to invent their relationship to it. I see it as a giant editing room. You could be reading a sentence in one of the books when you look up at the screen.".
The work is the ninth commissioned by Unilever, which yesterday showed its continued confidence in the Turbine Hall project by pledging a further £2.16m until 2012. Past works in the series have included Olafur Eliasson's The Weather Project, consisting of a giant simulated sun, Anish Kapoor's Marsyas, a set of steel rings joined together by bright red PVC membrane, and Carsten Holler's popular Test Site, which was made up of giant metal slides.